Anchor Bay // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 17th, 2009
Don't call him Chromedome. Just don't.
What's this? An entertaining, engaging slasher movie? Why, we haven't had one of them in these parts for some time!
A girl (Bobbi Sue Luther) wakes up in a casket, not knowing who she is or how she got there. She manages to escape, only to find herself in the middle of another nightmare: a crazed killer named Chromeskull is stalking her and murdering anyone that gets in his way. She has no clue what this wacko wants, only that he wears a skull mask made of chrome, sports a shoulder-mounted video camera and can do truly disgusting things with his serrated knife.
In her desperate escape attempt she encounters two helpful strangers, a gruff man named Tucker (Kevin Gage), who saw his wife carved up, and Steven (Sean Whalen), an antsy computer nerd mourning the recent death of his mother. Along the way some folks die in truly horrendous ways.
I haven't been this jazzed over a horror movie in a long time. Kids, if you're looking for an inventive, sick as all get out thrill-ride I cannot recommend Laid to Rest highly enough. In fact, I'm so over the moon with this movie I'm going to employ a dated, corny expression and say that, yes, Laid to Rest is all that and a bag of chips. Argh, you see what you've made me do Anchor Bay? Do you see what I've become?!
Let's break this down:
Why I think Laid to Rest is half a loaf of awesome
* The Good Guys
Here is one of the main reasons I'm enamored with this film: the characters are far more than cannon fodder. The girl, Tucker, Steven, they're decent folk who are looking out for each other and doing the right thing even in the face of relentless terror. This character development pays off huge dividends because you don't want them to die and that investment leads to a greater degree of authentic tension. Kevin Gage especially crafts a character that might just be one of the most likeable in recent genre memory.
* The Bad Guy
Chromeskull, despite his corny name and contrived appearance (that shoulder-mounted miniDV camera gives him an over-stylized Predatorish look), is a badass killer. He's not unstoppable and takes a beating here or there and is in fact nearly killed a number of times (spared thanks to the protagonists' unwillingness to ensure that he's dead, which of course is the leading cause of death among protagonists) but you never doubt that who he has his murderous gaze set on is going to die a messy, painful death. Once you see his handiwork, I have no doubt you will come to despise this guy as I much as I did.
* The Kills
If anything will get people talking about Laid to Rest, it's the gore. The gags that director Robert Hall -- an FX guy in his own right -- and his talented team of effects gurus concoct are both unique and revolting. Have you ever seen someone die by getting a can of tire inflation foam in the ear? Or a knife through the cheeks followed by a clean removal of the entire face? There's a lot more, each successive murder more gruesome than the one that preceded it and they're all executed brilliantly.
All of these work together along with a simple but effective chase-movie set-up to build a well-paced, dynamic piece of slasher filmmaking. Laid to Rest is not to be missed -- I don't care how jaded a horror fan you may be.
The film looks great, transferred in a healthy 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and supplemented by an active 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix. Extras: commentary from Robert Hall and his wife/producer/star Bobbi Sue Luther, a behind-the-scenes documentary, deleted scenes, a featurettes on the special effects and bloopers.
Laid to Rest falls short of being a total slam dunk. Hall lost a hold of the climax, which runs out of energy and is hampered by clichéd stupid good guy decision making (shoot him in the chest, not in the bulletproof metal mask!). Chromeskull's fate is settled in an awkward, unsatisfying manner.
Highly recommended for fans of the genre and anyone clamoring for a blood-soaked thrill ride. Emphasis on the blood-soaked.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes